Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 8, 1995
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Scientists, farmers, and other land-managers have been challenged to evaluate the effectiveness of various land use practices and policies such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by defining, measuring, and assessing soil quality. Paired comparisons were made at six sites in Henry County and at four sites in Butler County on soils that had similar slope, aspect, degree of prior erosion, and A horizon thickness. Although CRP areas in Henry County were planted to grass for just two years, bulk density, aggregate stability, total C and N, nitrate N, microbial biomass, respiration, hyphal length, and ergosterol data showed significant differences between the CRP and tilled sites. Few differences were detected in Butler County, probably because the "tilled" sites were being managed using no-till or very reduced tillage practices. These field studies demonstrate that various indicators can be selected, measured and used to show differences in soil quality, but substantial research and education are needed to determine how to evaluate and interpret the data and assess land-use or policies such as the CRP program.